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欧洲经济努力应对能源冲击

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Finance & economics

财经板块

The euro area: Danger zone

欧元区:危险区

Europe’s economy grapples with an acute energy shock.

欧洲经济正努力应对严重的能源冲击。

For the best part of a decade, rock-bottom interest rates seemed like a fact of life in the euro zone—as did low inflation.

在过去十年的大部分时间里,最低利率似乎是欧元区无法改变的现实--低通胀也是如此。

Now consumer prices are rising at an annual rate exceeding 8%, well above the European Central Bank’s target of 2%.

目前,消费者价格的年涨幅超过8%,远高于欧洲央行2%的目标。

Members of the bank’s governing council have signalled their intent to raise rates soon, a message they were expected to reaffirm at a monetary-policy meeting on June 9th, as we went to press.

欧洲央行管理委员会的成员已经发出信号,表示他们打算马上提高利率,预计他们将在6月9日的货币政策会议上重申这一信息,就像我们报道的那样。

But the ECB finds itself in a tricky position: of contending not only with surging prices, which might warrant rapid rate rises, but also gloomier growth prospects, which might warrant patience.

但欧洲央行发现自己陷入了一个棘手的境地:不仅要与飙升的物价抗争,还要应对增长前景黯淡的问题,前者可能需要迅速加息,后者则可能需要耐心。

The root cause of both developments is a severe energy-price crunch.

引发这两种情况的根本原因都是严重的能源价格紧缩。

Prices of oil and natural gas had already been rising before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; the war sent them soaring higher still.

在俄罗斯入侵乌克兰之前,石油和天然气的价格就已经在上涨;这场战争使它们进一步飙升。

These price rises have played a much bigger role in pushing up consumer-price inflation in Europe than in America, where stimulus has also been a culprit.

这些价格上涨在推高欧洲消费者价格通胀方面发挥的作用比在美国大得多,在美国,经济刺激政策也是罪魁祸首。

Energy prices in the euro area—which rose at a whopping annual rate of 39% in May—are contributing about four percentage points to headline inflation, compared with two in America.

欧元区的能源价格在5月份以高达39%的年率上涨,为整体通胀率贡献了大约4个百分点,而美国贡献了2个百分点。

The effects are starting to spill over to other prices.

这些影响正开始波及到其他价格。

“Core” inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, was higher in the euro zone in May than economists had expected.

欧元区5月份剔除食品和能源价格变化的“核心”通胀率高于经济学家的预期。

German producer prices rose at a record clip of 33.5% in April, compared with last year, driven not just by energy, but also energy-intensive goods such as concrete and chemicals.

与去年相比,德国4月份生产者价格指数上涨了33.5%,创历史新高,其背后推动力不仅是能源,还有混凝土和化学品等能源密集型商品。

The result is a big hit to firms’ costs and households’ purchasing power.

这一结果是对企业成本和家庭购买力的巨大打击。

In how much danger does it put the euro area’s economy?

这会给欧元区经济带来多大的危险呢?

One consequence of the energy shock is lower household incomes in real terms.

这一能源冲击造成的一个后果是家庭实际收入下降。

Wage growth has been picking up modestly across the zone, but still trails behind inflation.

整个欧元区的工资增长一直在小幅回升,但仍落后于通胀。

Some employers have made one-off payments to workers, to compensate them for surging prices without incurring higher recurring wage costs.

一些雇主向工人一次性支付工资,从而在不增加经常性薪资成本的情况下,补偿物价飙升给他们造成的损失。

Even then, however, annual pay growth in the Netherlands, where the labour market is tight, stood at just 2.8% in May.

然而,即便是这样,在劳动力市场紧张的荷兰,5月份的年薪增长率也只有2.8%。

In one sense, this is good news for the ECB, because it reduces the risk of a wage-price spiral.

从某种意义上说,这对欧洲央行而言是个好消息,因为这样降低了出现工资-价格螺旋形上升的风险。

But it may feed into lower consumption, weakening the rest of the economy in turn.

但这可能会导致消费水平下降,进而削弱经济的其他部分。

A moderation in demand only adds to a heap of woes for the manufacturing sector, where confidence is already in steep decline.

需求放缓只会让信心已经在急剧下滑的制造业雪上加霜。

Supply disruptions as a result of China’s recent lockdowns and high energy prices are hurting businesses, with Germany and eastern Europe looking most vulnerable to an industrial slowdown.

中国最近的封锁措施和高能源价格导致的供应中断正在给企业带来损失,德国和东欧看起来最容易受到工业放缓的影响。

New orders for the zone’s manufacturers in May fell for the first time since June 2020, indicating weaker demand.

今年5月,该区域制造商的新订单出现自2020年6月以来的首次下降,表明需求疲软。

Export orders declined at their fastest pace in two years.

出口订单以两年来最快的速度下降。

Economists are therefore pencilling in slower growth over the rest of the year.

因此,经济学家们预计今年剩余时间的经济增长将放缓。

But few expect an outright recession just yet.

但几乎没有人认为会立刻出现彻底的经济衰退。

That is because some parts of the economy confront the energy shock from a position of strength, rather than weakness.

这是因为,在对抗能源冲击时,部分经济领域处于优势而非劣势地位。

Many services firms are still reaping the rewards from the end of Omicron-related lockdowns.

许多服务公司仍在因奥密克戎相关封锁措施解除而获益。

Southern countries are benefiting the most, given their reliance on tourism; in Spain arrivals of sun-seeking northerners almost reached pre-pandemic levels in April.

南方国家依赖旅游业,因此受益最大;4月份,为了阳光到访西班牙的北方人数量几乎达到了疫情前的水平。

Overall, business sentiment in services remains strong, with many firms reporting a growing backlog of work.

总体而言,服务业的商业信心依然强劲,许多公司报告积压的工作越来越多。

Jobs are still plentiful, too.

就业机会也仍然充足。

Across the bloc there were three vacancies for every 100 jobs in the first quarter of 2022, a high level by historical standards.

2022年第一季度,整个欧盟每100个职位就有3个空缺,按历史标准来看,这是一个很高的水平。

Firms’ hiring expectations are solid, albeit slightly weaker since the start of the war in Ukraine.

尽管自乌克兰战争爆发以来,公司的招聘预期略有减弱,但仍保持稳定。

More than one in four businesses in Europe say that a lack of staff is preventing them from producing more.

在欧洲,超过四分之一的企业表示,员工短缺正阻碍它们生产更多产品。

A hoard of savings built up during lockdowns should also provide consumers with some cushion against the energy shock.

封锁期间积攒的储蓄也应该为消费者提供一些缓冲,以应对能源冲击。

According to our calculations, such “excess” savings in France and Germany amounted to a tenth of disposable incomes in the first quarter of 2022 .

根据我们的计算,法国和德国的这种“额外”储蓄相当于2022年第一季度可支配收入的十分之一。

These buffers will blunt the impact to the energy shock.

这些缓冲将减弱能源冲击的影响。

But they will not offset it altogether.

但它们不会完全抵消这一影响。

Excess savings, for a start, are not evenly distributed.

首先,额外储蓄的分配并不均匀。

Poorer people in rich countries, and most households in poorer countries, have precious little left.

富裕国家的穷人和较贫穷国家的大多数家庭所剩无几。

In Slovakia, for example, the savings rate never rose much during the pandemic.

例如,在斯洛伐克,疫情期间的储蓄率从未大幅上升。

“Consumption weakness will come from lower-income households,” says Jens Eisenschmidt of Morgan Stanley, a bank.

摩根士丹利银行的延斯· 艾森施密特称:“消费疲软将来自低收入家庭。”

Retail sales, in real terms, have moved sideways for months.

几个月来,实际零售额一直呈横盘走势。

Many governments have put together spending programmes to shield households from high energy prices.

许多政府已经拟定了支出计划,以保护住户免受高能源价格的影响。

According to Bruegel, a think-tank in Brussels, Germany, France and others are spending between 1% and 2% of GDP.

布鲁盖尔智库的数据显示,德国、法国和其他国家的支出占国内生产总值的1%到2%。

Not all of that is well-targeted, however.

然而,并不是所有支出都有很好的针对性。

Much of it is going on relief for better-off households that do not need it; other measures have involved meddling with prices, with some of the benefit going to energy suppliers.

其中大部分用于救济不需要资助的富裕家庭;其他措施涉及干预价格,能源供应商从中获利。

Even if the euro area is spared a recession, then, the energy shock will be a drag on growth.

即使欧元区免于经济衰退,能源冲击也会拖累经济增长。

The ECB faces an unenviable dilemma.

欧洲央行面临着危险的两难境地。

With every increase in inflation on the back of food and energy prices, the European economy is getting weaker.

随着食品和能源价格导致的每一次通胀上升,欧洲经济正变得越来越疲软。

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